Originally Posted by Hoos
...Currently, with the web, it's fairly easy to market your product all over the world and shipping is paid for by the customer (most of the time). A perfumer could be constrained by either too much business or not enough business, which is nothing new. So, concretely, I don't think there are limits to the expansion of a niche house (or a mainstream house) other than the normal pitfalls/obstacles of commerce.
But the perspective of the "nicheness" of the frag is a different thing. And I think that's what really underlies all of this is the perceived "uniqueness" of the availability of a fragrance. Currently, in the U.S., i Profumi di Firenze frags are only available from a select number of retail outlets (a keystone of niche marketing) and they are not commonly worn here. Yet, anyway. So, in that sense, it seems they would be considered a niche house and they may have a lot of growth in this market.
In Italy, though, iPdiF frags may be all the rage among the teenagers (I don't know -- it's just an example) which, to me, would not make it a niche frag in Italy. And would probably mean a quick death to their frags being more marketable beyond teenagers in Italy. So it would be neither niche nor face a growing market in that country.
Similarly, fragrances priced out of the range of most people would fill the "niche" marketing definition. Clive Christian, etc. Not that they're better, but they fill that "niche" of exclusivity in a different way.
There are thresholds of growth, and your business has to first earn the funds for the next investment, or become credit worthy. In the long run there may not be a limit, that's true. Remember the development in the Hi-Fi market? There were the Sonys, Yamahas, you name them. And there were the small garage shops, sound freaks and engineers, some of which grew and became famous for a small number of wonderful products. Why have they disappeared? The number of potential customers was limited and finally turned away. Huge sound boxes and amplifiers are out, and digital sound opened new possibilities. Karmann Ghia was ready to grow unlimited with their main product, a two seater that looked like a Porsche with the motor of the Volkswagen. This was a niche that had a ceiling way below the Volks, of course.
Original niche is born out of specific limitations of resources (for perfume it could be certain ingredients). In the beginning niche products have to either be better (as viewed by a minority of potential buyers) or cheaper than the majority of products in whatever market. Niche hasn't really been a concept to boost sales, until successful pioneers demonstrated that a lot of money could be earned by addressing a specific group of buyers. Nowadays some big corporations imitate niche, like Armani, one of the biggest mass marketers in perfumes who have added their Privée line. Others revived a forgotten brand in big style: Acqua di Parma. These guys have all the money to make whatever perfume they want to make, and launch it in Shanghai, New York, and Ontario on the same day (How strange would that be for a niche, I always thought. Then Tauer started that with Incense Extreme.
) But these world players limit (some of) their products artificially selling it at prices and places of their choice. Chanel, Guerlain, Lutens - they all do this, and it works provided the quality of these 'prestige products' is in the bottle, not just on paper. The new wealth of individuals in Eastern Europe, the Orient and Asia has boosted the demand for high priced products and luxury tremendously.
The motivator for fake niche, I think, is return on investment, and bankers dream up these things rather than men with an ambition to excel as independent perfumers, or rely on 'natures gifts'. True niche doesn't always warrant products of overall premium quality, but such products excel generally in one or two respects, like genuinity, uniqueness, trustworthyness, etc.. Availability, service, packaging on the other hand are sometimes negligible in the mind of a buyer. Top Brands on the tend to become institutions which sometimes survive generations of buyers.Perspective
: national brands can reign on the home market but be a niche internationally. In the case of I Profumi di Firenze
it may depend on how they normally sell in Italy and whom they actually target. After Milano, Florence is probably second in perfume and fashion for the whole of Italy.